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WHAT’S JAZZ INSIDE

Features

IN THE

Islands JAZZ.tt

Issue #3. Mar 2016

Welcome All Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA is a mecca for music students world over. A few Caribbean musicians have ventured there to improve their skills and theoretical knowledge. Caribbean jazz is better for the fact of a new cadre of musicians who can and do play their instruments at a level that is recognised globally. Ron Reid is a pioneer who went there and is now teaching there, and in turn produces a cadre of artists that benefits the genre. We are looking at a new era of calypso jazz with new recording and now new musicians. Nigel A. Campbell Editor nigel@jazz.tt

Departments

10 Ron Reid, Precious Metals and Afro-Caribbean Jazz Boston-based Trinidadian multi-instrumentalist revels in the debut of his new album and looks forward to the evolution of calypso jazz. 9 Elan Trotman

5 RON REID Precious Metals Souvenir Programme. 21 August 2016, Trinidad. The album launch concert featuring new calypso jazz by the Bostonbased multiinstrumentalist.

12 A Good Year for New Music

4 ‘Boo’ Hinkson St. Lucia’s jazz ambassador continues to represent the Caribbean jazz scene all over the world.

Bajan saxophonist adds a hint of tropicality to smooth jazz.

2 First Look

A little of this and that; Things to do.

14 In Memoriam

The Ballad of Fitzroy Coleman

16 Pan Jazz Picnic 18 Reviews 20 Recording Roundup CD/Download Links

Clive Zanda Gayap Workshop, Pedro Lezama 3 Robert ‘Dubwise’ Browne, Jeff Narell 4 Boo Hinkson 9 Elan Trotman 11 Ron Reid 13 Various Artists PHOTOS: JANDRO CISNEROS /

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2016 provided a steady supply of new Caribbean jazz for an audience in need.

Scan the QR codes below the album to connect to the online digital marketplace. Jett Samm Publishing 37 Newbury Hill Ext., Glencoe, Trinidad and Tobago www.jettsamm.com +1 868 366 6104

Advertising inquiries 868 366 6104, advertising@jazz.tt Editor and Manager Nigel A. Campbell Art Direction and Design NiCam Graphics Editorial and Advertising Assistant Amanda Carr Contributors Jabari Fraser, Tony Bell, Harold Homer II. Jazz in the Islands is published periodically by Jett Samm Publishing. All material © 2016, Jett Samm Publishing, except where noted, and may not be reprinted without permission. NOT FOR RESALE. Printed in Trinidad and Tobago by Caribbean Print Technologies. Available online at jazz.tt

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FIRST LOOK

A little of this and that, things to do. Simeon Sandiford and SANCH Electronix recording, he has harnessed the sound and timbre of the steelpan in the jazz milieu, capturing improvised steelpan music from Annise Hadeed and Rudy ‘Two Left’ Smith, and the majesty of Clive Zanda. His panyard recordings are legacy items that include the ephemeral joy of Panorama arrangement in situ. Sandiford’s role as a collector of sounds has made its mark on the quality of music produced by local jazz musicians. His connections have broadened the nation’s canon.

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“Assorted yet familiar is the short description of this double CD set... What you see, and then hear, is a gourmet array of delectables served for over two hours.” —eCaroh

Available at iTunes.com

Pan Jazz Conversations 2: Rubalcaba Meets Ray Cuban rhythms and Trinibagonian steelpan combine to take us on a musical conversation unlike any other. Trinidadian steelpan virtuoso Ray Holman joins the late Cuban legend Guillermo González Camejo, affectionately known as “Rubalcaba”! “Rubalcaba Meets Ray: Pan Jazz

CLIVE ZANDA et al Pan-Jazz Conversations/Gayap (reissue) (SANCH Electronix, 2013)

Conversations 2” Executive Producer Simeon Sandiford succeeded in breathing new life into ten intoxicating arrangements by Cuba’s own undisputed King of Charanga with an infusion of ‘overdubs’ by virtuoso Steelpan composer/ arranger/performer Ray Holman. It is now possible to re-issue the original album inclusive of two of Ray’s compositions.

PEDRO LEZAMA Pure Pleasure (SANCH Electronix, 2014) “Pure Pleasure...certainly has its moments of pleasure and is worth a listen.” —T&T Guardian

Available at iTunes.com

PHOTO: SANCH ELECTRONIX

Simeon Sandiford stands as one of the more progressive music business entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago. In 1979, Sandiford incorporated Sanch, primarily for building loudspeaker systems to compliment high-end audio equipment imported from USA, Europe and Japan. Seven years later, in an effort to become globally competitive, the company re-focussed its attention to the manufacture of cultural products. Sandiford has since executive produced more than two hundred cassettes, compact discs and DVDs, mainly of acoustic recordings of the music of Trinidad and Tobago. He uses minimalist microphone techniques, adhering to the less is more principle adopted by audiophile engineers. Sandiford firmly believes that the economic future of the Caribbean lies in harnessing, integrating and marketing of its diverse cultures in the global marketplace. To this end, using the themes One Caribbean Voice®, Reid, Wright and be Happy® and Cultural Rhythms® he has executed several events showcasing combinations of musical, artistic and culinary talent in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent, Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States of America. A pioneer in steelband


FIRST LOOK Things to do! TUE NOV 08 - 12

FRI OCT 07 - 10

JEFF NARELL Sirocco (Jeff Narell, 2016) “The interplay of CARIBBEAN steel pans with AFRICAN talking drums, djembes, strings and chants opens a musical dialogue between old and new worlds.” —CDBaby

Dominican Republic Jazz Festival 20th edition of one of the biggest cultural events in the Caribbean. Santo Domingo and elsewhere, Dominican Republic http://drjazzfestival.com/

Barbados Jazz Excursion, The Crane Hotel, Barbados http://barbadosjazzexcursion.com/

FRI SEP 23 - 24

THU SEP 01 - 03

Available at CDBaby.com

PHOTO: THA / PRODUCTION ONE LTD /ST LUCIA TOURISM

ROBERT ‘DUBWISE’ BROWNE Groovy Love Thing (Dubwise Browne, 2015) “As the title of his new album suggests, the groove is solid on this set of ten instrumental tracks.” —Caribbean Beat

Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival Renaissance Festival Plaza, Aruba https://caribbeanseajazz.com/

Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival World Trade Center, Piscadera Bay, Curaçao http://curacaonorthseajazz.com/

Available at CDBaby.com

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Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson St Lucian jazz ambassador prepares for a new album

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Shades said: “Bringing forth the sounds of the Caribbean and a hint of that sweet African melody and rhythm often found in the music of the wonderful Jonathan Butler, he is one talent hard to pigeonhole, and how sweet that is. In addition to the Caribbean and Butler-like stylings, we hear some Benson-like scatting, hints of Kenny Burrell and Carlos Santana, and so much more. It is not hard to stop whatever you’re doing, grab a seat (or a dance partner), and fall captive to the gripping rhythms and the exquisite sounds emanating from Hinkson’s guitar.” His musical peers have given him accolades. Stanley Jordan describes Boo “as a genuinely gifted and accomplished musician”. George Benson praises his technical prowess and improvisation. Ronnie Laws has described his playing as “extremely soulful and intense”. Frequently compared to Kenny Burrel for not only his natural touch on the guitar but also his polished image, Boo plays the guitar with fire, soul, and astuteness. Added to his accolades are successful performances at the prestigious Lincoln Centre in NY. In June 2013, he was invited by the White House to perform in celebration of Caribbean Heritage month. A busy performer who is constantly travelling and performing, Boo serves as an example of Caribbean jazz excellence who has remained rooted to his region and culture. He is working on a new album with his American label due in early 2017.

RONALD ‘BOO’ HINKSON Shades (Zephryn Records, 2011) “It’s not hard to stop whatever you’re doing, grab a seat (or a dance partner), and fall captive to the gripping rhythms and exquisite sounds emanating from Hinkson’s guitar.” —Smooth Jazz Ride

Available at iTunes.com

RONALD ‘BOO’ HINKSON Friday Afternoon (Single) (Zephryn Records, 2016) “Brand New Mischief may help to broaden Leon Foster Thomas’ audience, and he certainly deserves to be heard.” —All About Jazz

Available at iTunes.com

PHOTO: AMY R SMITH

Ronald “Boo” Hinkson’s talent transcends cultures and sounds, bringing a fresh and innovative blend of jazz and Caribbean music. A gifted composer, producer, and heralded guitarist, Boo’s unique approach and versatility enable him to deliver a distinctive signature sound. A mainstay at the annual St Lucia Jazz Festival, Boo is an icon in his native land, and a cultural ambassador Born in Saint Lucia and raised on a diet of Ellington, Davis, and Coltrane, Boo’s name is synonymous with Saint Lucian music. His mother – who was also an accomplished guitarist – was his first teacher. His musical career began with the Tru-Tones, a group he started in Saint Lucia, which commanded stages locally and internationally for two decades. So much so in fact, that their eclectic blends of Caribbean and pop rhythms garnered them an appearance at Superbowl XIII. Today, he is an exceptionally accomplished musician who has stayed true not only to his Jazz roots, but also to his West Indian culture. Boo couples his appreciation of the old masters with Contemporary Jazz and Soca in his music and lyrics, and as a result his popularity has continued to spread. After two early records, Urban Drift and Alive and Well, Boo hooked up with American management and a label and produced Beyond in 2003. and some years later in 2011 he launched Shades, which was described as a balance between traditional Smooth Jazz and the Caribbean influenced style. Ronald Jackson, reviewing


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THE PROGRAMME

SONGLIST: 1. Precious Metals Ron Reid 2. Samba for Sista B’ Ron Reid 3. Rio de Paz Ron Reid 4. This Girl is Mine David Williams 5. If I Should Lose You Ralph Rainger 6. Moonchild Andre Tanker 7. Freegypt Ron Reid 8. Battie Mamselle Lord Kitchener 9. Blowout Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe 10. Bam’s Goodbye Ron Reid 11. Township Boogie Ron Reid

join four talented local musicians who are also seeking ways to reinvent the local canon. We will meet drummer Sean Skeete, pianist Gilson Schachnik and trumpeter Arnetta Johnson as they exchange ideas and emotions, and infuse the new music from Reid’s new album, Precious Metals, with the essence and energy of Anthony Woodroffe Jr’s saxophone, Theron Shaw’s guitar, Natasha Joseph’s double second steelpans and Tamba Gwindi’s percussion that assuredly reflect the Afro-Caribbean ethos that distinguishes this music from other musics in the Americas. Vaughnette Bigford provides vocal counterpoint to instrumental composition. This exercise in fusion, this meeting of musical peers from the United States, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago is a world première event that provides a basis for an audience, at one time removed from the creative process, to be important to the reckoning of the resulting creation. RON REID Precious Metals: The Album Launch Concert is an opportunity to renew our faith in our ability to discern greatness and reward it effectively.

PHOTO: ANNETTE GRANT / KELLY DAVIDSON / DAVE KAUFMAN

* Song selection and order subject to change.

Steel and brass. Precious metals in the alchemy of Ron Reid as he once again engages with the AfroCaribbean aesthetic to create the music for a renewed calypso jazz era. Steel and brass represent a union of the sound of the steelpan and the sound of the trumpet—and for added flavour, the saxophone—that makes for a novel approach to the music from our region. Ron Reid is an ideal candidate for this new alchemy. Currently, he is an associate professor at the worldfamous Berklee College of Music, but more importantly, he is a soldier in the army of original musicians who in the 1970s were tinkering with the melodies and harmonies that make us Caribbean, and innovating ways of listening to the music that makes us dance, that makes us sing, that gives us joy. The zeitgeist of that era has been re-focussed in a modern time to challenge audiences to hear the beauty of the music of Andre Tanker, Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, Lord Kitchener and Reid himself, as composer. Tonight, Reid and his music contemporaries from Berklee will

6 Jazz in the Islands SOUVENIR PROGRAMME


THE NEW CD

PHOTOS: JANDRO CISNEROS

Liner Notes from Precious Metals Music is a powerful tool of expression and Precious Metals is an exemplar. This mélange of global melodies and timeless rhythms offers an insightful glimpse into the transparent, emotive and reflective life journey of a musician whose love for Trinidadian folk music, Afro-Caribbean culture and jazz is as evident as it is contagious. Ron Reid is a sage with an astute ability to merge the sonic representations of past traditions with contemporary musings. With a supporting cast of peers and former students the expressions encapsulated within Precious Metals are priceless. The Trinidadian-born multiinstrumentalist’s reflections on the streets of his youth are seamlessly interpreted through the title track. In tribute to the strength and compassion of his sister, “Samba for Sista B’” offers a vibrantly passionate and radiantly warm melody played brilliantly by flautist Fernando Brandao and former student Leandro Pellegrino on guitar, both from Brazil. Two additional tracks memorialize loved ones - “Bam’s Goodbye,” a tribute to a dear friend and avid supporter; and “Moonchild,” honoring Trinidadian composer and keyboardist, Rafael “Raf ” Robertson. The latter is Reid’s first professional recording on piano. Acclaimed tradition-bearer and cultural curator, Reid invokes the presence of Ogun, the Yoruban deity of metals with “Sumambari Ogun,” acknowledging the Yoruban

influence on Trinidadian roots music. “Village Vibz” represents the sounds of musicians limin’ and refining their skills in the village, Trinidadian Phase II Pan Groove pan yard. Reid’s arrangement of Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe’s “Blowout” pays respect to the “Mozart of Pan,” acclaimed steel pan soloist and the award-winning arranger for Phase II. As an alumnus of the late Lord Kitchener’s Calypso Revue Tent, Reid’s arrangement of “Battie Mamselle” featuring dialogue between steel and brass salutes the legendary calypsonian. Originally intended for the sequel to the celebrated Reid, Wright and be Happy project, David “Happy” Williams’ “This Girl is Mine” is offered as a calypso-samba ballad. In response to the civil unrest in Egypt, “Freegypt” evolved from a teaching moment in the master educator’s Afropop course at Berklee College of Music. Precious Metals is filled with rare glimpses of potent sounds of the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, certainly a valuable offering worthy of note. —Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D

RON REID Precious Metals (MudHut Music, 2016) “Precious Metals is a celebration and a re-discovery of the best we can be as a land of music. With a supporting cast of peers culled from both Boston and Trinidad, Reid plays a mix of original compositions and new arrangements of the music of Lord Kitchener, Andre Tanker, David “Happy” Williams, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. Precious Metals is the first new album of music from Ron Reid in more than a decade. This album marks the third commercial recording by Reid who previously produced Calypsoldier in 1999 with his Caribbean pan jazz ensemble Sunsteel, and the Reid, Wright and Be Happy album with fellow Trinidadian ex-pat musicians David “Happy Williams and the late Orville Wright in 2003. On those two albums, he was featured on steelpan. Reid himself notes that, ‘this new CD has much more of my bass playing that pan playing. With this Precious Metals project, I hope to perform more frequently with the combination of steel pan and brass and metal percussion, thus the title.’ Being a multi-instrumentalist, audiences and record buyers will savour the fact that the new album also marks Reid’s first professional recording on piano.” —Jazz in the Islands

Available at iTunes.com

Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 7 iRADIO.tt


Thank You! The producers of RON REID Precious Metals would like to thank and acknowledge the following persons and organisations for their commitment and effort to make this album launch concert a reality. MUSICIANS AND SINGERS: Ron Reid....................................Electric and Acoustic Bass, Vocals Gilson Schachnik.......................................................................Piano Sean Skeete..............................................................................Drums Theron Shaw............................................................................Guitars Arnetta Johnson................................................Trumpet, Flugelhorn Anthony Woodroffe, Jr.....................Tenor sax, Soprano Sax, Flute Tamba Gwindi...................................................................Percussion Natasha Joseph.................................................................Steelpans Vaughnette Bigford................................................................Vocals ADMINISTRATION AND HOSPITALITY: Marielle Forbes HOUSE MANAGER: Malene Joseph, Jaime Bagoo, Tonya-Joy Ible LIGHTING DESIGN: Kevon LaFleur, Clinical Media Group FRONT OF HOUSE ENGINEER: Robin Foster STAGE MANAGEMENT: Michelle Roach, Gabriella Samuel, Stephen Samuel. CENTRAL BANK AUDITORIUM: Jeffrey Joseph, Jovon George, Joanne Darsan and the technical staff. Thank you to those individuals who assisted in-kind and supported in spirit: Wayne, Jean-Marc, Serious Music, Birdsong, Dennis Phillip, and you the patrons who came to be part of this celebration.

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Elan Trotman

PHOTO: ELAN TROTMAN

Bajan saxophonist gives jazz with a hint of tropicality. albums Love and Sax (“Heaven In Your Eyes“), Tropicality (“Tradewinds” and “Masterblaster“), the single “Thoughts of Summer feat. Will Downing, and from collaborations with Brian Simpson (“Just What You Need“), Greg Manning (“Groove Me“), Cal Harris Jr (“Smooth“) Lin Rountree (“As“), Marion Meadows (“Magic Men”), Julian Vaughn (“Ride Along”). Known to compose and produce all of his projects, Trotman’s discography is currently at 8 and growing, with the success of his latest albums: ”Tropicality” and “#LiveAndUncut“. Trotman is straightforward in his choice of smooth jazz as opposed to straight ahead: “Trying to launch a career in the U.S. after coming from a tiny island can be a very humbling experience, but it can also inspire you to be different and push you to find ways to make your voice distinct. To that end, I try to use young Saxophonist Elan Trotman, quickly producers that don’t typically work with becoming one of jazz’s most thrilling and smooth jazz artists. Then I write catchy, emotive performers, continues to stand sing-able hooks, bringing in my influences out and push boundaries as a composer, and experiences. I see myself as part of performer, teacher and recording artist. the new generation of contemporary jazz Trotman’s playing, though inspired by Grover Washington, Jr., Kirk Whalum and artists, and hope to be a part of the new Arturo Tappin (Elan’s childhood mentor), movement that will help to preserve the displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive art-form.” Trotman has found his groove with the tone. So much so that the New England deliberate fusion of island rhythms with Urban Music Awards, and The Barbados Music Awards both named him Jazz Artist the tropes of smooth jazz. It’s working because he’s a busy man, and now is of The Year on multiple occasions. While growing up in the tropical island releasing a new album called Double Take with this band, rechristened Tropicality. paradise of Barbados, Trotman learned It is described as “Caribbean Jazz & Pop to play the piano at age seven and picked Fusion featuring saxophone and steelpan. up the sax five years later. The Barbadian government granted him a full scholarship Trotman and his band revisit some of their previously recorded fan favorites including for the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned a degree in music billboard topping singles “Heaven In Your Eyes”, “Tradewinds”, “Smooth n education. In turn, Trotman, who was mentored in high school by Barbadian sax Saxy”, “Master Blaster”, and “Thoughts of great Arturo Tappin, also serves as a music Summer feat. Will Downing”. Casual observation would suggest educator in the Boston public elementary that Barbados is the home of sax men school district. in the Caribbean. Who knows? They As a recording artist, Elan has are successful and widely popular. Elan already been credited with 10-top 25 Trotman is now part of that clique. Billboard Radio singles, from his own

ELAN TROTMAN’S TROPICALITY Double Take (Island Muzik 2016) “Caribbean Jazz & Pop Fusion featuring saxophone and steelpan.” —AllAboutJazz

Available at iTunes.com

ELAN TROTMAN Tropicality (Woodward Avenue Records, 2013) “Elan Trotman brings to us on Tropicality, his sixth and latest solo album, the very rich and tasty melodies of the lands of warmth and serenity.” —Smooth Jazz Ride

Available at iTunes.com

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Ron Reid

Precious Metals and Afro-Caribbean Jazz generation” of calypso jazz pioneers, Reid stands among giants who made our music global. With a storied career of over 30 years composing, performing, and teaching, Reid has been a standardbearer for improvisational Caribbean music that includes an eclectic mix of Trinidadian folk, AfroCaribbean and jazz music. From composing the theme music for pioneering local television programmes in Trinidad and Tobago to being the musical director with touring troupe of Derek Walcott’s Trinidad Theatre

Workshop to participating at the heights of academe at Berklee, Ron Reid, with this new album, Precious Metals, continues a journey towards defining excellence. By shining a light on the musical gems within our local repertoire, we share in an album of “priceless” offerings. Precious Metals marks the third commercial recording by Reid who previously produced Calypsoldier in 1999 with his Caribbean pan jazz ensemble Sunsteel, and the Reid, Wright and Be Happy album with fellow

PHOTO: JANDRO CISNEROS

The news release was direct, as it should be: “Ron Reid is currently an associate professor of contemporary writing and production at the world famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, and he will be returning to Trinidad for an exclusive performance of new music from his latest album, Precious Metals, and the launch of a new era in calypso jazz.” The promise of launching a new era is grand, but in the hands of this able task master, it may be a reality. Trinidad and Tobago is a land of potential, sometimes obscured by a nagging defeatist attitude. Most of the time, when it matters, the creative energy inspires some to make cultural shifts that last longer, and thus sustain. As part of the group that made up the “protégés of the Schofield Pilgrim

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Trinidadian ex-pat musicians David “Happy Williams and the late Orville Wright in 2003. On those two albums, he was featured on steelpan. Reid himself notes that, “this current CD has much more of my bass playing that pan paying. With this project, I hope to perform more frequently with the combination of steel pan and brass and metal percussion, thus the title.” In the dozen years between recording projects, Reid has been a standard-bearer for Caribbean jazz— improvisational Caribbean music is a term Reid uses often—and it is worth noting that in his two decades at Berklee, Reid has been instrumental in bringing a cadre of Caribbean students to benefit from that important centre of music learning. As an Associate Professor in the Department of Contemporary Writing and Production, he also teaches percussion, including the steelpan. Critically, Reid has served as a producer for Trinidad artists, in particular Theron Shaw on his most recent album Gumbo Caribe creating a space for Caribbean creativity outside the box. An interesting concept happening more often among those musicians who are composing and performing improvised Caribbean music, is the use of musicians with no connection to the Caribbean, but versed in the technique and theory of music. Reid, in that space in Boston thrives on a wave of peers and students who can learn, but importantly, can produce the music that arises from the intersection of the African aesthetic and modern Western music. This cultural exchange, in which Reid is a partner serves to actively spread the music, and inform it with a stricter

sense of musicality and performance. When one ponders the genesis of a major strand of calypso jazz with its locus at the Queen’s Royal College in the 1960s, one is reminded that there were risks taken by young students, “who had nothing to lose” unlike professional musicians at that time. Jazz is risk. By the modern musical conversations that Reid is encouraging among a new wave of international students at Berklee, we can see that this is indeed the ushering into being of a new era in the evolution of Caribbean jazz. Local audience are sometimes starved of this musical exchange save the return infrequently by the messengers of the music. The world of music, of art, of commercial creativity is stymied by a kind of dogged indifference to excellence that local audiences sometimes harbour. Ron Reid, has taken the mantle of forming new audiences in the diaspora and wider Americas, of creating new musicians who can effectively spread the music of the isles, and keeping alive the traditions that feed our musical heritage. The commercial exploitation of this original music from the islands is normally a task taken on by artists themselves, as records labels have very rarely associated with this jazz fusion genre, Latin jazz being an exception. The exploits of these early pioneers who have sustained careers for over three decades play a major role in cementing the idea of Afro-Caribbean jazz as valid. For his part, Ron Reid, the curator of native melodies and rhythms, continues the journey to deliver the next episode in the evolution of jazz touched by the isles and nurtured by the creole imagination. Precious Metals is further proof of that next step into discovery.

REID WRIGHT & BE HAPPY Pan-Jazz from Trinidad & Tobago (Sanch Electronix, 2003) “This is not pan-jazz; it’s jazz, plain and simple. Down to its classy presentation, Reid, Wright and Be Happy sets a new standard for Caribbean jazz.” —Caribbean Beat

Available at iTunes.com

RON REID’S SUNSTEEL Calypsoldier (Mud Hut Records, 1999) “This CD is a polished blend of human and instrumental voices in a well honed Pan work.” —Jack Kopstein

Available at iTunes.com

Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 11


A Good Year for New Music 2016 is proving to yield a bumper crop of new Caribbean Jazz After years of slim pickings of new and original music, 2016 has turned into a year of relative abundance. The key word is relative, since more than a handful of new releases signals a sort of tsunami of Caribbean jazz and pan jazz releases in a segmented world where this music is a sub-sector of a sub-sector. A couple interesting things are happening, which signal a potential for the steelpan in particular. Ropeadope Records released this year so far, a new album by Leon Foster Thomas, Metamorphosis, and is cueing up another by Akinola Sennon, Cousoumeh, for release in September 2016. These two Trinidadians join label mate Jonathan Scales to create a new steelpan music hegemony that has jazz firmly planted in the centre. Sennon’s new album in intriguing

12 Jazz in the Islands

more so for the artist’s statement: “Cousoumeh’ is a period of becoming. That moment when the stove’s heat is lowered, the contents of the pot stirred one last time, the lid goes on and it is left to, well, cousoumeh. It is there that plural becomes singular, pieces become whole, the individual becomes the collective. The etymology too represents that coming together- of languages and experiences; French and African, oppressor and oppressed, colonialism and independence. These fusions allow for the creation of a word that is 100% Trinidadian, like the steelpan. This instrument, the only one created in the 21st Century, is in fact a representation of a people and their history. From the depths of oppression, rebellion, struggle, [and] power imbalances emerges a story of uprising, triumph, hope and empowerment. This instrument, single-

handedly, tells the tale of the community and the masses while giving a voice to the most peculiar orator.” Coupled with this movement by the label that has among its many artists Grammy winner Snarky Puppy, is the revelation of a new double album by American pannist Andy Narell, Dis 1. 4. Raf. His focus is on the expansion of the idea of Caribbean-ness beyond the tried and true, and with that, he continues the musical conversations with his French Antillean and Cuban musicians to great effect. Consisting of one CD of group play and the other a duet with Cuban pianist Janysett McPherson. Caribbean jazz, or that could be jazz from the Caribbean, always gets a critical and commercial bump when Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles releases an album. His latest salvo is a panoramic view of the connection jazz has with the wider Americas, San José Suite. Britt Robson writing in JazzTimes says, “In theory, San Jose Suite is pointedly geographical. Armed with a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation (via Chamber Music America), trumpeter-composer Etienne Charles sought out indigenous people in the cities of San Jose in both California and Costa Rica, as well as St. Joseph (once called San Jose de Oruña) in his native Trinidad, mining their respective musical cultures and political histories. The common thread—and inevitable theme of his 12-song, 55-minute opus—is building community by retaining musical culture as a means of resistance to further conquest. In practice, for better or worse, however, most of San Jose Suite is not unlike previous Charles projects in its polyglot of progressive music born out of the African diaspora.” This mature contemplation can be juxtaposed with the debut of drummer Zane Rodulfo’s new EP Pathways. A cerebral romp that celebrates the Caribbean sound, Rodulfo’s album marks a pressing forward of a new generation


of songwriter and musician. Trumpeter Rellon Brown released an album with his Dominant Seventh CalypsoJazz Band, Homegrown, which marks the debut of another kind of exploration of what this music is that blends the dissonance of jazz with the rhythm and melodies of spirited joy. One review said, “Trumpeter Rellon Brown along with his young Dominant Seventh CalypsoJazz Band, on their new CD HomeGrown, peel back the pomp and gloss of current tropes to resurrect the idea of creole dance band music. The music, recorded live in the studio, serves as a kind of instigator for moving hips and feet, and as a beacon of native pride in what worked and what did not.” Two Berklee peers also released albums this year. Multi-instrumentalist and associate professor, Ron Reid with Precious Metals and Bajan saxophonist Elan Trotman and his band Tropicality, with their Double Take are maintaining a tradition of sustaining an identity outside

that speaks to their Caribbean heritage. All in all, a renewed effort is being made by regional musicians to release original music to an audience looking for the varied and colourful sounds of the Caribbean. 2016 is proving to be a good year, and with 3 months to go, and the buzz suggesting at least three more albums to be released before Christmas, the market for Caribbean jazz music looks good.

ANDY NARELL Dis 1. 4. Raf (Listen 2 Entertainment Group, 2016) “It will probably be an exasperating cliché to suggest that this is Narell’s best work yet, but it is so completely true all the same.” —Latin Jazz Network

Available at iTunes.com

ETIENNE CHARLES San José Suite (Culture Shock Music, 2016) “Overall, Etienne Charles offers his listeners a truly enlightened musical narration and a diverse recording filled with vivid colors, rhythms, harmonies and melodies.” —AXS

Available at iTunes.com

ZANE RODULFO Pathways (Zane Rodulfo, 2016)

LEON FOSTER THOMAS Metamorphosis (Ropeadope Records, 2016)

“This EP is a great launching pad for a stellar international career.” —Caribbean Beat

“Metamorphosis is a tapestry of music delights that transcends any perceived limitations or expectations of Leon’s association with the steelpan instrument.” —When Steel Talks

Available at iTunes.com

Available at iTunes.com

Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 13


IN MEMORIAM

The Ballad of Fitzroy Coleman

Legendary jazz guitarist Fitzroy Coleman died on Tuesday, July 23 in Trinidad with little recognition or fanfare. Regarded among the top 100 jazz guitarists on various polls, Coleman’s demise and retreat from public accolade paints a sobering picture of a nation. Journalist Jabari Fraser offers up a moving eulogy that gives deserved value to Coleman’s worth as a jazz pioneer.

his thumb does the tango to pivot his fingers into unimaginable positions and sounds on the fret board. The chords and licks that made him famous are the innovations and inventions of a young boy with perfect pitch, who, from 1932, stole alone-time with his father’s precious guitar when that gentleman was at work. Performing almost like a minstrel with other youth for the estate owners of St Clair earned him the nickname “Little Boy Wonder”, which led him to England in 1945 with an all-star Caribbean band. He was chosen above experienced guitarists who read music. At the time he couldn’t. Throughout the 1950s, he was constantly rated among the best guitarists in Europe. He created jingles for Barclays Bank. Being black then, Coleman said, was a hindrance to landing big gigs and recognition. By the mid-1950s, his performing in excelsis could not go unnoticed. He was frequently featured on BBC radio, and television broadcasts. He accompanied Mahalia Jackson, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich, Tony Bennett and many other international stars.

Coleman and Kitch: Race and Love

No doubt his guitar work played “Fitzroy Coleman’s fingers dancing on heavily on Kitchener’s pre-soca sounds the fret / And when you think that he of the 1950s and 60s. Coleman once through / He ain’t start nothing yet.” —”Calypso Music”. David Rudder, 1986. said that he and Kitchener were friendly before he left for England. When his calypsonian friend arrived in 1948, they While Rudder’s lyrics are now a would improvise music and lyrics in clichéd reference to the jazz /calypso their performances, trading and feeding guitar great, it is Fitzroy Haynes off mutual respect and brilliance. Coleman’s saviour from obscurity in Although musically and lyrically the land he was born in, that shaped his Kitchener may not be remembered for style, and failed him terribly. The few socially conscious songs, early Kitch videos available of Coleman at work was different. He was at the forefront of capture the sweet chromatic chaos and the intricate, complex choreography that building West Indian identity among burgeoning immigrant communities in he performed every time he picked up England. Fitzroy Coleman was his rightthe instrument. hand man in composing and recording His fingers stretch to form personalized chords and voicings, while the sounds and stories of black West 14 Jazz in the Islands

Indian immigrants in the UK. Coleman’s chords and colours are clearly heard in the important social chronicles such as “When a Man is Poor” and “If You’re Brown”. Without his melancholic tones, the social commentaries of the tribulations of the Windrush Generation would have been far less impactful. At the time, he also worked with and helped Lord Beginner and the Mighty Terror find their feet in a new country. (Coleman’s solo in “The Monkey” is a lesson in instrumental soloing for calypso). In England, he gigged at every club, restaurant and hotel imaginable. The performances were organized by his friend Enid who had owned nightclubs before World War II. In an interview on Power 102FM this week, Foster said she always took diligent care of his business. Tricky fellow musicians took advantage of the island boy in the “mother land” metropole until she came along. One day, Foster says, Enid asked Coleman, “Why don’t you marry me and let me take care of your business?” Coleman and Enid got married in 1947. She had told him she was ten years older than he was; it was more like twenty. When she died, he discovered the truth. Whatever the state of their love, her professional care for him lasted late into Coleman’s old age, as he used to receive pension cheques from England before he died. She defended him and strongly opposed anyone who had anything to say about his colour. Foster relates a story of the couple walking the streets in London one day when someone called him a nigger. Enid said to Coleman, “Darling, wait here.” She walked to the taunter and said: “You didn’t know they were niggers when they were fighting for us in the war!” She beat him up.

The flawed genius

As a young reporter and musician, I

PHOTOS: BRIAN SHUEL /GETTY IMAGES

A tribute to a pioneering Caribbean jazz guitarist


once tried to interview him. For years, I had researched his music. I picked up the telephone directory, found his name and gave him a call. His second wife, Edna, who he lived with in Laventille answered the phone. She called him and he sounded excited that a youngster knew of him and wanted to talk. I got there a few minutes late and called at the gate. He chased me furiously, warning me never to come back. Discouraged, I never tried again. “Like most geniuses, he was very fragile,” Foster tries to piece together some of the experiences that made the genius such an emotional man. He explains that Coleman frequently remitted money to his mother while he was in England. On a visit to Trinidad in 1960, he was very upset to see his mother still living in a dirt-floored Woodbrook barrack yard, with alcohol a key part of her existence. Older musicians ostracized him when he left Trinidad. They were jealous that a young man, who, at the time, could not read music, was taking their place to go to England in search of a musical living. He learned to read and began to learn the theory of the things he had already been doing on the guitar without being taught. The rejection he faced from some of his own countrymen continued in England. His return to Trinidad to play music was difficult. In response to his style

in Kitchener’s Frederick Street tent, he got: “Mr. Coleman, you bound to make all them chords?” And: “You playing rubbish! We don’t want no Englishman here!” That led him to self-imposed exile in the Matura forest. He bought ten acres of land and began to garden. Music was a thing of his past. Lord Relator, one of his guitar students says, “Kitchener would dig what he was doing. It was like school for me. Men couldn’t relate. They would look back like he playing s–t, when he played a 13th or a flatted 5th. He fattened the chords.” Mas’ man Teddy Pinheiro, a fabulous collector and archivist of cultural trinkets and records, says in one musical lime decades ago, Coleman picked up Relator’s guitar and played all sorts of songs for forty minutes. After, Relator exclaimed, “Ah never hear my guitar sound so good!”

Coleman the experimenter

playing is unlike anything heard before or since. Sometimes, he would play a separate chord for every note of a bass line (which he played), walking a mile a minute, cajoling from unsuspecting ears, the impression of two or three guitars, all while he played intricate melodies. In much of his calypso soloing, the sound is rooted in a Trinidadian joie de vivre. Brief solos, peeping from behind calypsonians’ lyrics are high craft, fast and sweet. Listen to Roaring Lion’s “Mary Ann”. After a chorus, Lion’s lyrics instruct him to “Come up, Mr Coleman!” He lets rip a fast, highpitched barrage of demisemiquavers and semiquavers, rattling the frets. Pinheiro, Relator and Foster relate the story of Coleman playing in a band assembled by Sparrow, and being fired because his soloing sorcery was stealing the limelight from the Calypso King of the World. What can be done to preserve, beyond Rudder’s words, the already frail legend of Fitzroy Coleman? UWI and UTT researchers should compile a detailed discography. The archives of Pinheiro (with his direction and blessing) should be made an important part of every library’s heritage section. Relator’s chords, handed to him by Fitzroy Coleman must be written and taught in fine arts programmes at UTT. Foster should be given the funding and support to make his recordings of Coleman into a documentary. These are just a few suggestions.

As an innovator, he is unmatched. He would take bass guitar and banjo strings and put them on his guitar. One of the recordings sounds like he was using synthesizing technology which did not appear until the decades of the 80s and 90s. Foster chronicles some of the work of the intense innovator and says that Coleman had written countless chords that he imagined in his head onto paper. “It took him two years “I have no regrets. The thing is, I’ve to perfect a chord.” Foster made a lot of people happy in this says that John Williams, world, and I contribute to mankind. As recognized as one of the greatest classical guitarists far as I’m concerned, if I close my eyes now, I didn’t waste my life. I’ve done ever, once looked on in something constructive for mankind. tremendous respect at That’s how I look at it.” Coleman playing. He —Fitzroy Haynes Coleman 1923-2016 said Coleman was “the world’s greatest chordplayer.” His chordal — © 2016, Jabari Fraser Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 15


PAN JAZZ PICNIC

The Pan Jazz Picnic continues with a sampling of music from around the world played on the steelpan. As was noted in the beginning, the theme of the artist in exile in the diaspora could have been a linking theme for the articles in the magazine. This is reflected mostly in the idea of pan jazz, or just steelpan recording generally. The continued dearth of original pan jazz from the birthplace of steelpan is troubling. Even more so when one considers that even ensemble music is recorded for commercial release by one producer alone. 16 Jazz in the Islands

Many promising pannists in Trinidad and Tobago hesitate to put on record some fine playing despite the accolades garnered from live performance. Markets are muted in the islands. It is noteworthy that original pan jazz is still being recorded in the US, Japan and France to make a telling statistic, and to signal an opening for new listeners. The selection overleaf speak to a new horizon for what is possible with the instrument created by youngsters in barrack yards and behind walls. The American fascination with the instrument has grown to a mini industry with soloists

experimenting with sound and timbres and rhythms. When Steel Talks website reviewed an album by Jonathan Scales thus: “Many can talk the talk - but few can walk the walk. Pannist Jonathan Scales without a doubt is ‘walking the walk.’ On his sophomore release called Plot/Scheme, Scales takes the listener not only into unexpected territory, but clearly uncharted real-estate. The fact that he takes us there with the steelpan instrument navigating the journey - is all the more fascinating. All notions of an island-like, ‘smiley, smiley’ facade are dashed from the onset.” The islands, by right, should not be far behind.


CHRIS WABICH Caribbean Standard (Chris Wabich, 2015)

Phil Hawkins H2O (Ramajay Records, 2005)

ANDY AKIHO No One To Know One (Innova Recordings, 2011)

“The album, “Caribbean Standard,” is considered by many to be a landmark jazz album, primarily due to how its featured artist was utilized.” —PAN Magazine

“With steel pans as the lead instrument and a lineup that also includes drums and percussion, there is little doubt that H2O will have an emphasis on groove. ” —AllAboutJazz

“[H]is approach hangs between playing with strong accents, melody, and power in a jazz sensibility, with baroque associations in melody and arrangements.” —Psychemusic

Available at iTunes.com

Available at CDBaby.com

Available at CDBaby.com

LIAM TEAGUE & ROBERT CHAPPELL Open Window (Chappell &Teague, 2010)

JONATHAN SCALES Plot/scheme (Jonathan Scales, 2008)

ANDY NARELL Tatoom (Heads Up International, 2007)

“Open Window is marvelous. Teague and Chappell make an excellent duo and Liam’s virtuosity is at times breathtaking.” —Michael Colgress

“Many can talk the talk - but few can walk the walk. Pannist Jonathan Scales without a doubt is ‘walking the walk’.” —When Steel Talks

“If you have prejudices about steel bands, prepare to shed them when you hear this CD. Andy creates a wonderfully chromatic mix of rich harmonies.” —Tony Augarde

Available at iTunes.com

Available at iTunes.com

Available at iTunes.com

Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 17


REVIEWS Elan Trotman Group #LiveAndUncut (Island Muzik)

Andy Narell Oui ma Chérie! (Listen 2 Records)

Barbadian saxophonist, Elan Trotman serves up on this eighth album #LiveAndUncut (“Live and Uncut” for the Twitter hashtag averse) a tropical feel that defines the elements of smooth jazz that have a legion of fans reaching for a Rum Punch and the resort menu. Combining catchy hooks and warm melodies, with the purposeful blending of danceable calypso and reggae rhythms

Trinidadians are notoriously protective of their national instrument, the steelpan, so much so that when iconoclastic American pannist Andy Narell releases a new CD, the chauvinistic hubris echoing among local voices can and does sting. Narell’s riposte in this instance is an album of five long musical interludes, a balance of originals and Trinidad song /calypso that defines broader genre options for the steelpan. Jazz dissonance and tropical rhythms that suggest the wider Caribbean outside of Trinidad move the body of music for the instrument several steps ahead. Narell single-handedly plays all the parts of a small steel orchestra to capture with near sonic perfection the timbre of the modern steelband, and blends it with solo guitar and trumpet to imagine newer possibilities. After 18 previous albums, it is clear that the sound born of “the audacity of the creole imagination” in Trinidad is now global, and this album is apt proof of Narell’s significance.

Zane Rodulfo Pathways (Lavway Music) Drummer Zane Rodulfo, on his debut EP Pathways shows a maturity beyond his 26 years as composer of and rhythmic support for a short set of original jazz instrumentals. Dissecting the music, one is awed by the seemingly cultivated approach of the musical themes on this production. As a graduate of both Oberlin College and NYU, one expects a studied approach, but the artist’s youth throws a wrench in the theory that this level of quiet contemplation must come with age and experience. Rodulfo’s Trinidad roots are reflected purely in the sound, not necessarily the rhythms. Composing four out of the five tunes on this collection, the superlative interplay between jazz guitar or saxophone and the effectively anchored rhythm section suggests that as a producer, he is not selfish and his gifts lay in creating environments for musicians to run free without bombast. This EP is a great launching pad for a stellar international career.

is a strategy that would separate Elan from the rest of the pack of smooth jazz saxophonists. Lead single, “Smooth ‘n’ Saxy” aptly describes the mood of the album that introduces the listening audience to the steelpan sound as an ambience enhancer. The track “Simon Paul” slyly mimics Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” melodic charm to cheerful results finding the Caribbean jam where there was a hint before. “Bop & Run” is a calypso re-invented while “Funkalypso” is a jazz soloist’s paradise. This album should be a must-have on any jazz or Caribbean playlist.

Available at:

Available at:

18 Jazz in the Islands

Available at:


REVIEWS Various Artists TriniJazz Project (Parlemusik)

Clifford Charles Homeward Bound (Yazara Music)

Michael “Ming “ Low Chew Tung is the architect of 21st century jazz recording and performance in Trinidad and Tobago, following on from mentors like Clive Zanda and Mike Boothman, prolifically producing original music to add to the local canon. Now, he acts as mentor and producer for a new generation of young jazz musicians and singers with a new CD, TriniJazz Project.

Guitarist Clifford Charles fifth CD, Homeward Bound, continues a trend of re-definition of the music of these isles. Charles has endeavoured to convert soca’s high beats-per-minute freneticism into smooth jazz for easier consumption by an audience less inclined to be defined as “bacchanalist.” This may not be high achievement for the jazz connoisseur, but in the hands of this player, the ongoing efforts of many Caribbean artists to “crossover” make sense with this music on this album. The music never veers towards the kitschy excess of the genre. Recent soca hits such as Destra’s “Call My Name” and Bunji Garlin’s ”Differentology” evoke the essence of universal popular appeal. Recorded live in studio with his quartet, Charles maintains the chops that are recognizable for the effortless rhythm playing and solid soloing. Three originals balance the five soca smooth jazz covers and provide the basis for a soundtrack for a resort-inspired frolic.

Jacques Schwarz-Bart Jazz Racine Haïti (Motema Music) Guadeloupean tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart heard, as a child, Haitian vodou ritual songs played by his mother and celebrated author, Simone Schwarz-Bart, as a soundtrack to their life of literary idyll in the Caribbean. That memory of the music, and his own yearning to create jazz that is reflective of his French-Caribbean heritage propelled Schwarz-Bart to first perform and later, to record Jazz Racine Haïti as a document of the spiritual journey beyond Haiti all the way back to Africa. “That dialogue with silence [music] creates a doorway to the unknown.” To re-arrange vodou music for this band featuring jazz musicians and two houngans (vodou priests) was an exercise to engage with the greatness of this music. “Legba Nan Baye” fuses, in real time, ritual music and jazz, voice and tenor sax. African-Caribbean grooves that drive this music beyond spirituality achieve a synergy where modern jazz and vodou are one

Available at:

Polished arrangements and smooth jazz elements shouldn’t suggest any sell-out to the aesthetics of Caribbean luxe tourism or middlebrow leisure culture, but in the hands of the players, Tony Paul (sax), Rodney Alexander (bass), Modupe Onilu (percussion), Dean Williams (guitar) and smoky voiced chanteuse Vaughnette Bigford, these ten tunes are a celebration of how we sing, dance and live in these islands. The reframed calypsoes of Bigford, the rhythmic pulse of Onilu, and the improvised joy by the others say “trinijazz” is the definition of accomplished.

Available at:

Available at:

Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 19


RECORDING ROUNDUP

DOMINANT SEVENTH Home Grown (Rellon Brown, 2016)

EDDIE BULLEN Spice Island (Thunder Dome Sounds 2015)

ALEXIS BARO Guilty Pleasure (G-Three Records, 2015)

Cécile McLorin Salvant For One to Love (Mack Avenue Records, 2016)

“The music, recorded live in the studio, serves as a kind of instigator for moving hips and feet, and as a beacon of native pride in what worked and what did not.” —T&T Guardian

“Spice Island is a musical reflection of my life as a teenager growing up on the “spice island” of Grenada in the Caribbean.” —Eddie Bullen

“His work as a performer and composer on this album along with his cast of headline players is a demonstration that first-rate music is alive in Canada.” —Jack Kopstein

“Depending on your perspective, this album can either challenge expectations or satisfy the soul ” —Caribbean Beat

Available at Amazon.com

Available at Amazon.com

REGINALD CYNTJE Spiritual Awakening (Reginald Cyntje, 2015)

Dion Parson & 21st Century Band St. Thomas (Dion Parson, 2015)

LIAM TEAGUE & ROBERT CHAPPELL For Lack of Better Words (Rhythmic Union Records, 2002)

JONATHAN SCALES Jonathan Scales Fourchestra (Ropeadope 2013)

“...the band utilises native music forms like quelbe, and broader reggae and calypso rhythms to transform the sound of Caribbean jazz into a new fusion that points to a new direction.” —Caribbean Beat

“This album is an amazing display of virtuosity, and that is heard in more than one style of music.” —Amazon.com

“Steel pan jazz fusion artistic complexities for the modern ear.” —CDBaby

“Spiritual Awakening is a beautiful enigma, with mystery in every corner of the album, from its melodies and harmonies to its texture and improv structure..” —Washington City Paper

Available at Amazon.com

20 Jazz in the Islands

Available at iTunes.com

Available at iTunes.com

Available at Amazon.com

Available at iTunes.com

Available at iTunes.com


Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. September 2016 3


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4 Jazz in the Islands

Jazz in the Islands, Issue #4 (Digital)  

Trinidadian multi-instrumentalist Ron Reid muses on Afro-Caribbean Jazz and Precious Metals, his new album. And more stories that chronicle...

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